Best Director: McQueen, Daniels Edge towards Making History

http://www.awardsdaily.com/blog/best-director-mcqueen-daniels-edge-towards-making-history/

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In 86 years of Oscar history only two African-American directors have ever been nominated for an Oscar — John Singleton and Lee Daniels.  It isn’t that the Academy leans towards white American filmmakers to be exclusionary. It’s more a function of the fact that black directors in America, or even white directors making films about black characters, often tackle subjects laden with sensitive topicality that makes them too hot to touch, like Spike Lee. It isn’t easy to make a film that can aggressively address substantial subjects and still cross the black and white divide without doing anything that may seem offensive to either side. Add to that, trying to please the critics (who are 99% white), and making money to boot. It is as though the past, present and future stack up like heavy bricks on the back of every minority filmmaker but especially so with black filmmakers here in America. That there are at least two African-American directors “in the conversation” this year (Daniels and Ryan Coogler) is a impressive miracle in itself.  That British-born Steve McQueen has now emerged to lead the field means we could be witnessing history in the making — not just in terms of another nomination, but with a possible milestone win as well.

Make no mistake about it, winning an Oscar won’t make Steve McQueen or 12 Years a Slave look better than they already do. It would make the Academy and Hollywood look better. No one will be able to say McQueen won BECAUSE he was black. No one will be able to say the film doesn’t deserve it.

But it’s too early to count those chickens, and indeed, McQueen is likely to bristle at the notion of himself being categorized this way.  I suspect that’s because he isn’t African American, he’s British. Here in America things are a little different with regard to race. Despite what many Republicans keep denying, there is still a big problem here.  12 Years a Slave roars forth to confront the issue the head-on, and in the eye of the hurricane will be Mr. McQueen.

Working at the top of their game, though, are several other directors with great films in the race this year. Alexander Payne’s Nebraska, which has not yet opened, is a film that caps off Payne’s whole body of work with a road-trip story about a man near the end of his road. His mental grip is slipping. His past and memories are questionable, his choices are suspect and with assistance from his son it all comes to a head. Nebraska is one of the best films of the year. Payne has yet to win Best Director even after coming so close with Sideways and The Descendants.

Alfonso Cuaron‘s heartstopping thrill ride goes deep on emotion, dazzling on special effects, and leaves you waiting to exhale by the end of it. It took Venice, Telluride, and now Toronto by storm and should continue its run through Oscar season.  As a 3-D effects film with a singular female lead (and can we say: Wow) it will have an uphill climb to win the vote of all of the various guilds and branches.  Where the Golden Globes used to be the biggest influence, now the PGA mostly sets the ball in motion. The dominoes fall from there. This, since 2009.

 Paul Greengrass‘ exceptional Captain Phillips, which also has yet to run the gauntlet of the critics, seems poised for a nod.  Like Gravity and 12 Years a Slave, Captain Phillips is a heart-pounding  drama that doesn’t let up until the credits roll.  Sure to be Gravity’s biggest competition in the editing category (unless 12 Years clean sweeps), with exceptionally confident directing throughout, Captain Phillips doesn’t shy away from its subject, and cracks open the difficult, uncomfortable notion of “us and them” with regard to America’s world dominance.

Joel and Ethan Coen are American treasures.  No other directors turn in such consistently challenging and brilliant work as they do.  With Llewyn Davis what you see is most definitely not what you get. See the film a few times and a maze, or puzzle will emerge. They’ve laid out the breadcrumbs for their fans to discover and meanings to uncover. Two viewings now and I haven’t completely cracked the code, but it has to do with mirror scenes, done in double, to reflect, I think, the parallel lives of Dave Van Ronk and Bob Dylan. But I think I’ll need to see it a few more times to figure out the intricacies completely (maybe I never will). Saying it’s one of the best films already is a no-brainer. The problem with the Coens is that they are always so brilliant they might be taken for granted this year.

Woody Allen‘s Blue Jasmine is the best film this director, who makes a new film nearly every year, has given us since Crimes and Misdemeanors. He has actually grown as a director at a time in his career when many veterans recede into their safety zones. With chilling flashbacks and an adept ensemble cast, this biggest-grossing per-screen opening of Woody Allen’s career could make a mark.  But his recent run with Midnight in Paris could hold him back from the Oscars.

Jason Reitman‘s Labor Day was a hit and miss at Telluride with the critics and bloggers. The audiences, however, ate it up. While it isn’t the crowd-pleaser that Juno was, nor the exploration of the one cool remove that Up in the Air was, it is something completely different from Reitman. Thanks to his gifted cast he brings us a love story for all time. It stands out for that reason. There isn’t a lot of love flooding into the Oscar race this year — and this one fills the need without being a rom-com. It is a serious, poetically luscious indulgence that maybe only some of us out there will really get. But Reitman is worth paying attention to as an evolving artist, to be sure.

Ryan Coogler is one of the few writer-director hyphenates in this year’s race.  If you (or I) must lump black filmmakers together Coogler is the only one of the three who wrote his own film. That means he’s sure to get, at the very least, an original screenplay nod for Fruitvale Station.  Whether he can crack the Big Five for director is a different story. Nonetheless, there is no denying the impact Fruitvale Station has had this year. It is a giant step forward for black auteurs telling American stories that have been shunted to the sidelines for far too long. Big Hollywood can’t be relied upon to tell good stories anymore. They have to be pushed through despite the status quo. With a brilliant ensemble cast from top to bottom, Fruitvale Station has managed to stay relevant all of these months later.

JC Chandor builds on his success from Margin Call (which took around ten years to write) to make a breakthrough film with Robert Redford, All is Lost. Filmmakers who take those kinds of risks ought to be rewarded for them.  Chandor is right at the top of this list for having the balls to make a film with no dialogue whatsoever. Still, All is Lost is as much a spiritual journey about survival (like Gravity, like 12 Years a Slave) as it is a literal survival film. It is beautifully made, and the kind of experience you never really forget.

The other directors who have taken great risks and turned out brilliant works include:

Asghar Farhadi, The Past
Abdellatif Kechiche,
Blue is the Warmest Colour (although…)
Richard Linklater
for Before Midnight
Dustin Daniel Cretton for Short Term 12
Sarah Polley for Stories We Tell

Still left to be seen but their place is being held:

Martin Scorsese for Wolf of Wall Street. The Man needs no introduction. A living legend. Enough said.
Spike Jonze, Her
George Clooney, The Monuments Men
Bennett Miller, Foxcatcher
David O. Russell for American Hustle, a way overdue American director who might finally pull it off this year.
Ridley Scott for The Counselor, Cormac McCarthy’s first original screenplay, also headed straight for a nomination in that category.
John Hancock for Saving Mr. Banks, good buzz so far.
Ben Stiller for The Secret Life of Walter Mitty

If I had to rank the directors most likely at this moment in time, I think I would want to avoid guessing the placement of films I haven’t yet seen. With that restriction in mind, the list would like this:

1. Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
2. Alexander Payne, Nebraska
3. Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
4. Paul Greengrass, Captain Phillips
5. Lee Daniels, The Butler
6. The Coens, Inside Llewyn Davis
7. Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
8. Ryan Coogler, Fruitvale Station
9. Jason Reitman, Labor Day
10. JC Chandor, All is Lost

62 Comment

  1. I get the Spike Lee reference – personally, I think he should have been nominated for Malcolm X over Do the Right Thing, but that’s just me….but aside from Daniels (who I was on his bandwagon right from the get go after Precious) and Singleton (whose flame has kind of died down), there’s Kasey Lemons – Eve’s Bayou is still a tremendous work and then…..? I mean we all know Tyler Perry, but I wouldn’t say he tackles subjects that are too sensitive for the mainstream…unless you mean cross dressing, bad dialogue and direction that is about as subtle as a sledgehammer……

  2. “Jason Reitman‘s Labor Day was a hit and miss at Telluride with the critics and bloggers. The audiences, however, ate it up.”

    I do worry that directing the film with the latest (and soon-to-be Oscar-winning) performance from noted Oscar-winner Kate Winslet (The Reader, Sense & Sensibility) hurts Reitman’s chances, as much of the awards attention will be laser-focused on Best Actress in a Leading Role.

    Sasha’s top five is great for how much we can see, but there’s a half dozen names in that “Still left to be seen” section that could end up top dog.

  3. If the year ended now, with only the films that Sasha has seen in consideration, Lee Daniels would not be nominated. Not even close. And let’s say only 50% of the sight-unseen contenders deliver come January, Lee Daniels would not be in the top 15 guys that got more nomination votes from the directors branch. Just my opinion, and I really enjoyed THE BUTLER.

  4. My guess:

    Alfonso Cuaron
    David O Russell
    Martin Scorsese
    Ben Stiller
    Steve McQueen

  5. Apparently, Ron Howard’s latest Rush will be another serious contender: Gold Derby predicts 7 noms including Best Picture and Best Director. Reviews are really good after yesterday’s screening in Toronto: 100% RT after 19 reviews and 86 MT after 8 reviews.

  6. I know you’re being mischievous, filmboymichael, but why is Tyler Perry getting dragged into this? The opening paragraph is about awards-caliber directors. Tyler Perry does what he does and that’s the end of it.

    There’s a place for junk-food and no shortage of people who want to consume it. All part of the economy, right? For every Tyler Perry there are 500 hacky white directors, yes? That’s beyond the scope of the intro to this piece.

    Carl Franklin has never been nominated and for all I know it seems as if he now has trouble even finding financing.

    The year Carl Franklin made the brillitant One False Move, Martin Brest was nominated for directing Scent of a Woman. Martin Brest, who would parlay his Oscar nomination into Meet Joe Black and Gigli.

  7. Minor quibble, but Blue Jasmine is only Woody’s 5th highest grossing film currently, and may only reach 3rd place on that list. That’s not even a likely possibility though. One thing’s for certain: no way it tops Midnight In Paris’ 56 million.

  8. Thanks Chris. That should read “Best per-screen opening weekend in Woody Allen’s career” or something similar. We’ll fix that line.

  9. ….you know me too well….of course my tongue is firmly planted in my cheek……and yes – you are right, so often great directors (of many colours) are over looked for hackneyed performances – be it directing, acting, writing, etc….

  10. Daniels gave an outstanding directing achievement in Precious and was brave to handle The Butler project but I dont think he deserves the nomination. The main criticism on The Butler is the presidential sketches and Daniels could have avoided them by demanding rewritings of the script and by making a better casting… Most of them were artificial and really did not convince.

  11. Okay I have seen you post several times that Kate Winslet will win best actress hands down. Can you please explain why you believe that to be so?

  12. I just saw The Butler yesterday. I liked it very much, but I thought Fruitvale Station was better and Coogler is more deserving of a best director nomination. However, I think Daniels has the better shot of being nominated and I wouldn’t begrudge him if he were nominated because it was a courageous movie to take on.

  13. I think “The Butler” just is not getting nominated for Best Director. And Best Picture is not a lock either! There are too many unknown variables that we don’t know. We still have Her, American Hustle, Wolf of Wall Street, The Counselor, August Osage County, and a few more! I think Daniels was brave in bringing “The Butler” to the big screen, but there was nothing amazing in his direction. I thought “The Help” was a much better film and it didn’t get in for Best Director. It got in for Best Picture and 3 acting nominations (which is something The Butler won’t manage)!

  14. Steve McQueen
    Lee Daniels
    Ryan Coogler
    Abdellatif Kechiche

    Imagine…

  15. Imagining it won’t happen. Of the four, Coogler and McQueen stand the best shots!

  16. I presume you’re talking to Watermelons? Can we get a goddamn signpost about this at Awards Daily? *sight*

  17. My best guess at the moment:

    1) Steve McQueen (a slam dunk for a nomination)
    2) Alfonso Cuaron (he’ll have to overcome the sci-fi bias, but the film has been getting such raves that I think Cuaron will make the cut).
    3) David O. Russell (I’m just stepping out on a limb here since no one has seen American Hustle. If the movie is as big of an Oscar contender as people are expecting, he’s probably in).
    4) Joel and Ethan Coen (I haven’t seen it yet but this seems like a potential director-y pick).
    5)???

    I’m not sure what to predict for the #5 slot. I don’t think Daniels will get nominated for The Butler. Ryan Coogler, maybe, if there’s an “indie darling” debut slot similar to last year’s Behn Zeitlin. I don’t think Reitman will make the cut, and I’m hesitant about Payne’s chances as well. I also have a big question mark on Scorcese, Clooney, Miller, Stiller etc. We’ll just have to wait and see.

  18. Is that Alejandro Gonzalez Iñarritu in the background on that picture?

  19. Ryan Coogler for the Benh Zeitlin slot? On paper, it looks like Lee Daniels has a better chance, but I’m behind Fruitvale Station all the way (at least until I see it, in case I hate it lol).

  20. Worst photobomb ever.

  21. I may be wrong….wasn’t spike nom’d for Do the Right Thing?

  22. Bryce – and to think, all of this goin’ down after your Best Actress comment actually brought up a contender I HADN’T considered: Paulina García for Gloria. Hopefully Roadside gets the picture in front of audiences in time, and DOUBLE hopefully it’s not just a teeny tiny NY/LA run.

    -Watermelons

  23. As an unabashed Coen Brothers fan and loving the subject matter, I’m still in the Inside Llewyn Davis camp but expect to be swayed by 12 Years A Slave purely based on the in depth reviews of what seems to be a magnificent film.

    Still even though I know you weren’t as impressed by it as some, I think Villeneuve deserves mention for the transition into major English speaking films for Prisoners.

  24. I agree with Jamie and would like to develop the issue of subject matter.

    I think it will come down to just that: subject matter. Once in a while, a film will come along that addresses really important issues and do so in a really serious way. There are many very fine pictures out there this year, but when a film like 12 YEARS wades in, its subject matter will eviscerate many other films.

    The obvious reference point is SCHINDLER’S LIST. The films nominated that year were In The Name of the Father (a film about a shocking miscarriage of justice), The Remains of the Day (a film about moral intransigence in the face of fascism), The Piano (a film about female emancipation) and The Fugitive (a film about… Harrison Ford running).

    4 of the 5 were such serious heavy-weight topics that any one of them could have won had they come out a year later (Forrest Gump was a big favorite but it didn’t have weighty subject matter).

    I have every faith that 12 YEARS is going to be more than a movie, it is going to be an experience. It will move and shock and provoke and sadden and enrage and above all, it will be a major talking point.

    In a way that few if any of the other films will be. There is simply no other film out there that addresses a topic as serious as slavery, bigotry, racism, misogyny, violence and history.

    RUSH may turn out to be a great picture, but its only about two guys racing in a car. Out of choice. No one forced them into those cars. GRAVITY may be a brilliant picture laden with such stunning craft that it affects the future of filmmaking. But it’s a fantasy. Nothing more. AUGUST? A small family drama. NEBRASAK, INSIDE LLEWYN DAVIS? Brilliant filmmakers, brilliant films. But nothing on the scale of 12 YEARS.

    The way I see it is if 12 YEARS goes on the run it should, it’s biggest opposition will be THE BUTLER. The softer, more palatable, gentler presentation of the issue of race.

    This year could be a replay of SAVING PRIVATE RYAN vs. SHAKESPEARE IN LOVE. And we all know how that turned out.

  25. In this blog, there’s so much emphasis with the ethnic groups issue, that I’m actually scared as a Brazilian to go there. I’m going to study there for a year next fall and maybe I’ll be ostracized or something, even though I’m white as cloud, I’m no WASP.

  26. Ryan, would you remove the “but” before I’m no WASP, please. :)

  27. And as if to prove my point, I just realized that I didn’t mention AMERICAN HUSTLE. It may be great, but its about what? Money scams? Drugs, big clothes and bad hair. WOLF OF WALL ST., sure it may be great but it’s not got the weight of 12 YEARS. Nothing has.

  28. Oh boy sure hope so. It’s been submitted by Chile too (no-brainer). Be sure to keep an eye out.

  29. For those who care (way too much) about the demographics of Oscar winners, a Best Director win by Steve McQueen will lead to something like this: A black man finally wins, but he’s not an American, yadda yadda yadda.

  30. Unless the movies are completely snubbed, I don’t see either McQueen or Cuarón missing- like Haneke with Amour or Ang Lee with Life of Pi (or Malick in the previous year), their movies seem (I haven’t seen them yet) to be the most director-heavy movies of the season.

  31. I thought it was a great photobomb due to its subtlety.

  32. I have no idea what’s going on but I’m going to guess for fun.

    Woody Allen
    Lee Daniels
    Alfonso Cuaron
    David O. Russell
    Derek Cianfrance

  33. It’s the moment to Harvey Weinstein realises The Immigrant to Marion Cotillard and James Gray can arrive to Oscar

  34. I am right behind Steve McQueen this year. Why this year, IMO, Shame is one of the best film of last 10 years and possibly the best of last 3. And he thoroughly deserves the top prize, because he’s good and not because he’s black. And that brings me Lee Daniels, whose The Butler has been unnecessarily exaggerated into this great film which frankly it is not. It deals with important subject matter, but that doesn’t make a good film. It’s just whitewashing history with broad strokes. I know he has no chance of winning [No one in sane mind will choose him over McQueen], and if gets nominated, that would be sorely because of things other than film’s merit.

  35. The difference between the Saving Private Ryan/Shakespeare in Love comparison, though, is that Shakespeare had more nominations than SPR (13 to Ryan’s 11, I think). The Butler is not looking at a very big nomination count overall, I don’t think, whereas 12 Years a Slave will probably get more nominations than any other movie.

    The Butler will get a Best Supporting Actress nomination for Oprah, but after that, I’m not so sure. Whitaker in Actor, maybe, but he’s kind of on the cusp. I will be surprised if Lee Daniels gets a director nomination. My gut is telling me this is not the sort of movie the director’s branch is going to be ticking off #1 on their ballots. Screenplay is also iffy.

    I just don’t see how The Butler wins, all things considered. It’s going to follow a similar path as The Help, I think–stellar box office, popular hit, a couple of acting nods (or maybe only one), and possibly squeaking onto the Best Picture list because of popularity. But without a director or screenplay nomination, it’s all but impossible for the movie to win Best Picture.

    12 Years a Slave, on the other hand, seems headed straight for nominations in BP, director, lead actor, supporting actor, supporting actress, screenplay, editing, and probably a few other tech nods as well. It’s going to clean up nomination-wise, I think.

  36. I also have to concur that I would be shocked if Lee Daniels was nominated for Lee Daniels’ The Butler. It has some moving and funny moments, but overall it’s very gimmicky and campy (and at several junctures, horribly directed). That movie will not hold up over the test of time, let alone the rest of the year.

  37. (done. sorry I wasn’t quicker)

  38. Are you refering to Best Director or Picture?

    Here is the list of the 1989 Best Director nominees:

    Oliver Stone – Born on the Fourth of Julydouble-dagger
    Woody Allen – Crimes and Misdemeanors
    Kenneth Branagh – Henry V
    Jim Sheridan – My Left Foot
    Peter Weir – Dead Poets Society

    The Winner was Oliver Stone. But I think that Spike Lee deserved a nom.

  39. I agree that McQueen is frontrunner right now. Especially with August getting meh to good reviews. But he was especially prickly during press conference and not so sure he won’t get himself in trouble during long awards run.

  40. If August really gets meh to good reviews, I dont know what Harvey will do. He will have in his hands two divisive films as his top 2 contenders, one that nobody is taking serious BP consideration despite good reviews (Philomena), one that is having mixed reviews (Mandela), a potential flop (Grace of Monaco) and the one with the best reviews is totally buzzless right now…

  41. Good catch! Made my night.

  42. Steve McQueen is a lock for a nomination (and although I have yet to see 12 Years a Slave, he may be under serious consideration to win). Alfonso Cauron would be a crime if he didn’t get a nomination (It was a tough year when he didn’t get nominated for Children of Men), David O Russell looks to have another nomination, The Academy loves nominating Scorsese so let’s assume he’s a lock also, my fifth choice/prediction would be either Paul Greengrass or Alexander Payne, the Academy loves Payne but more for writing than directing, however in Greengrass’s amazing filmography he’s only been nominated once, so it’s a toss up.

  43. Steve McQueen and Alfonso Cuaron are the most likely to be nominated at this point in time. But Lee Daniels? Seriously??? There’s just no way in hell. The Butler may get a best picture nomination but David O. Russell, The Coens, Spike Jonze, Paul Greengrass, Martin Scorsese, Alexander Payne, et al, surely stand a better chance! Remember when everyone thought The Help was going to get a best director nomination for Tate Taylor because The Academy was just going to love the film so much? Well, it got only four nominations. I see a similar trajectory for The Butler.

  44. From what I’ve seen, Paulina Garcia in Gloria is, and probably will remain top 5. I liked her more than Cate Blanchet who is the front runner I guess. The Past is great but Berenice is just “solid”. I have a feeling it will be Thompson or Bullock in the end. It sounds like Meryl and the film sucks donkey dick, so there’s that. Will be catching Brie Larsen today. Sorry for the rant.
    - Not Watermelons

  45. @Mattoc

    I’m planning to see it again once I can get a hold of a decently subtitled copy. I got mine through shady means. Additionally, mi español no anda muy bien (rusty af). But it certainly blew me away, and in fact I do believe the comparison between hers and Blanchett’s performance is a valid one!

    Perhaps my second year in row with a Latin American performance in my Best Actress top 5…

  46. Marion Cotillard and Paulina García, the best performances this year

  47. Frank
    I disagree the best performance of the year belongs to Brie Larson.
    Why is there no love for Design Cretton for best director for “Short term 12″?

  48. You can’t seriously leave out the Coens at this point. If they made the cut for True Grit they are right there for what I can only assume is a much better film in ILD. Academy loves them.

    McQueen
    Cuaron
    Coens
    Scorcese
    David. O. Russell

  49. Hey why is there no discussing about destin cretton for best director for “short term 12″ also I think “short term 12″ has an outside shot for a best picture nom

  50. lol keep up the good work, david!

  51. Bryce
    I don’t know whether to say thank you or not I don’t know if your be in sarcastic?

  52. not sarcastic at all (more of a smile than a lol), especially since I liked SHORT TERM 12 a lot –just make sure you see all the “contenders!”

  53. Oh I’ve. Seen some of them I’m not biased I just think its one of the best movies of the year. On goldderby its number 22 on the best pic race it’s number 23 in the best original screenplay and Brie Larson is number 9 on the best actress list

  54. ???????

  55. I remember watching a Q&A online for Shame last year and he seemed prickly then as well. Film directors aren’t actors so maybe they don’t “act” like they should to curry favor during the Oscar race. I wish it wouldn’t hurt them but I think it can.

  56. Achievement in Directing:
    Woody Allen, Blue Jasmine
    Ridley Scott, The Counselor
    Alfonso Cuaron, Gravity
    Steve McQueen, 12 Years a Slave
    Martin Scorsese, The Wolf of Wall Street

  57. well well well its september again, and you can smell in the air that subtle scent of awards season serious movies for savvy moviegoers who sneeze on summer films

    time for me to have courage and delve into this site articles to read about the hot new thing in awards land, bemoan fact that unless i get to download them i probably won’t see any of these films before or after oscar because my one lone island theatre needs to make money and can’t afford to be artsy for the sake of art and good taste

    also stack up on fortitude not to get super-irritated by our lovely host opinions and passionate plea for this or that film, i’m actually getting really good at it as exemplified by my presence here (as they say what doesnt killed you makes you stronger)

    long season ahead so yeah taking everything bit by bit….

    ryan OMG you guys got that save comment thingy i’m positively surprised and pleased! how many times i wrote a romance only to lose it by clicking on wrong button or closing tab by mistake

    nicely done!!!

  58. Nice time of year, before the various contenders get separated up into the good guys and the bad guys.

    My usual bit is that everybody underestimates the Oscar muscle of Warner, but this year Harv will be the man, IMO. The Butler is all over the kind of race narrative that the Academy steak-eaters can handle (used to be kinda bad but better now).

    Personally drawn to the harder edge depiction (white racist vigilantes and law enforcement have always operated with overt or tacit approval of our betters) and 12 years sounds like a step forward in the interracial “conversation”.

    So does that make Daniels, or one of the white guys, the bad guy as we devolve into our familiar awards season narrative?

  59. I love Woody, but man Blue Jasmine was not that great. Weirdly off-pacing, extremely expository dialogue, and no real parts besides Cate Blanchett. To say it’s his best since Crimes and Misdemeanors is way too far – better than Midnight in Paris, Vicky Cristina Barcelona, or Match Point? No way.

  60. Cuaron will win BD, 12 years a slave will win BP. It’s the right choice to make.

  61. Sorry Corvo, I love Cauron, but compared to what McQueen has done with 12 Years, I see him taking both top prizes – no splitting.

  62. Lee Daniels made a better movie with the adaption of Precious. I wouldn’t be insulted if he didn’t make the final cut – just like Bigelow & Hooper missed out last season. With The Butler, he seemed like he only excelled in all scenes Oprah. Everything else was sloppy acting, Presidential hatchet jobs, complete revisionism and…boredom. This (60s) film should’ve had at least 1 Motown tune to liven things up. It was certainly an accomplishment for Daniels to even get this project made. Did his directing vision break any new cinematic ground (like Ang Lee/Life of Pi)…not really.

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